Disclaimer: What I am about to say is not meant to be criticism of any non-profit where I do or have worked. Rather, it is my personal observation. I know that I must be the change I want to see.
I have worked at a few non-profits. I have loved it, been excited when I was hired, done great work, and really felt like I was making a difference.
I have also felt, at those same non-profits, that we were all getting so caught up in the internal politics (though the organizations were small), the lack of sufficient funding or time, and the imbalances in commitment, that we lost our focus and our own connection to the mission.
How can I do good work at a theatre company if I have lost my inspiration and creativity somewhere in the administrative mess and meetings? How I can make a difference to the kids I’m teaching theatre and creativity to if I have lost my own creativity and active working in theatre? Change is difficult even at a small organization. Self-observation is as well.
This great article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review about what the author calls the Non-Profit Paradox – how mental health organizations get caught up in unhealthy intra-organizational relationships and how anti-terror organizations get stuck with terrorizing bosses. But he also offers a way to self-reflect and make it better so we can all contentedly do the work we are at our non-profits to do!